London – We spend a third of our lives with our heads buried in a pillow.But now there are high-tech versions that claim to help you sleep better, feel healthier and smooth your wrinkles. Tanith Carey put them to the test.
Smooth out sleep lines: Save My Face Pillow, savemyface.com, £50
The claim: As we get older and our skin becomes less taut, many of us wake up to find the side of our face we have slept on is more creased.
Three-quarters of us sleep mostly on one side and, according to dermatologists, this may result in deeper facial creases. Studies have also found that ‘redistributing the pressure’ while we sleep may prevent wrinkles.
Placed on top of your regular pillow, the Save My Face pillow is C-shaped at both ends, resembling a squashy spanner, so it supports only your temple and your jaw. The skin around your eyes and cheeks is supposed to fall into the gap in the ‘C’ and is not squashed.
Cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sarah Tonks, of Knightbridge’s Omniya Clinic, says the idea is not entirely far-fetched: ‘It could be true that if your face is scrunched against the pillow, you do get lines because of the compression — although they tend to drop out over an hour.’
Did it work?: Well my husband Anthony did not appreciate a pillow, which poked him in the eye every time he rolled over. Also, the pillow was so small and slippery that by the next morning, it had disappeared on to the floor. IIIII
Stay cool in the heat of the night: iGel Bliss Temperature Regulation Pillow,bensonsforbeds.co.uk, £59.99
The claim: When we wake up during the night, there is a good reason why we instinctively flip the pillow over to the cooler side: the temperature of our heads and brains needs to drop slightly in order to help us to fall asleep.
If it gets too hot during the night, due to changes in room temperature or because of hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle or menopause, we wake up.
A study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has found that a cool compress on the forehead can help to beat insomnia because it slows the activity of the frontal cortex — one of the most important regions in the brain for controlling sleep.
To keep your head at the optimum temperature for sleep, around 36c (97f), this pillow contains gel crystals that absorb the warmth away from your head.
Did it work?: As soon as I put my head on this plump and bouncy pillow, I felt a mild and refreshing cooling effect spreading around my head and cheeks, and I soon dropped off.
Effective, but the downside is that the pillow cannot be washed because that would damage the gel filling.
Drift off to your favourite tunes: Sound Asleep Music Pillow, prezzybox.com, £14.95
The claim: Lullabies aren’t just for children. One study has found that listening to relaxing music as we nod off improves sleep by up to 35 per cent. This pillow has a built-in round speaker which connects to your iPod or iPhone, so you can listen to music as you drift off.
Did it work?: In a world where we are plugged into electronic devices practically 24 hours a day, this pillow feels like the inevitable next step.
Although it is best to keep your ear just over the speaker in the middle, you can’t feel it and the sound quality is surprisingly unmuffled.
Another plus was that I could hear the music clearly but my husband wasn’t disturbed.
Unfortunately, you can’t wash this pillow either, because of the speaker inside, so as the British Sleep Council recommends replacing your pillow every two years, this one could have a limited shelf life. HHHII
Tilt your head to stop snoring: Anti-snore pillow, direct.asda.com, £12
The claim: When we fall asleep, our throat muscles relax so that the airways become narrower each time we breath in. The snoring noise happens because of this narrowing of the throat.
When you breathe in, the air is forced through the narrower air passage, which makes the soft palate — the soft tissue at the back of the mouth — vibrate.
However, if you raise your head higher (usually by about 3 in) the airways do not collapse as much as when you lie flat.
This pillow aims to keep the head at a higher angle because it contains a firm foam core that stops the head sinking down into it.
Did it work?: Thankfully, I am blissfully ignorant about my snoring, so I tried it on Anthony to see if it reduced the nightly cacophony I have to put up with from him.
I noticed that, as he slept, the pillow kept his head at a higher angle.
So on the nights he fell asleep first, I didn’t need to dig him in the ribs as much to get him to roll over.
The result was that I got a better night’s sleep and woke up looking refreshed.
Copper threads to banish crow’s feet: Copper Pillow, iluminagebeauty.com, £50
The claim: This pillow contains copper, a mineral needed by the skin to make collagen — the webbing that holds the skin together — as well as hyaluronic acid, which plumps it up.
Tiny copper particles are woven into the fabric of the pillow case, which can slipped over any pillow.
The claim is that as you sleep, the copper penetrates the upper layers of the skin, making it look smoother and more youthful in as little as four weeks.
The copper is embedded into the threads so, the makers say, they will not wash out.
Dr Sarah Tonks says that while this sounds fanciful, studies have been published that endorse the science behind it.
According to the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, pillowcases containing copper led to a ‘significant improvement’ in wrinkles and crow’s feet after a month.
Dr Tonks said: ‘I already have one myself, and I thought this was unlikely, too, until I tried it. In my case, I’d say that after about six weeks, my face looked smoother.’
Did it work?: The thought of a copper pillow summons up the idea of something cold and scratchy, but the pillow case is as smooth as satin.
After a few weeks, I noticed my skin felt smoother in the mornings.
Overall — and given that I spend a small fortune on night creams — for a one-off payment of £50, this seems like a fair investment.